February 6, 2012
[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the THIRD INSTALLMENT of the Catalog Tales.Â It’s the story of the adventure to collect photos for a catalog that morphed from a traditional piece to the publication now available by contacting usÂ here.]
Eugene. Corvallis. Portland. Bend.
The list goes on and on of the cities and towns in Oregon that represent their own slice of cycling heaven.
For that reason alone, I felt compelled to stop in Bend for some photos along the Deschutes River as it snakes through downtown.
What you don’t see in the photos are the endless parade of cyclists who pedaled past us as we snapped pictures. Few places on the planet like Bend.
SMITH ROCK STATE PARK
Why would a cyclist come to the rock climbing Mecca of Oregon?
Why not? Just look at it. The Crooked River. The peaks. Amazing.
Without question, climbing is the thang at Smith Rock.
But the trails through the park are open to cycling, and it provides some fun riding.
The tough part is staying on your bike. And not stopping every 100 yards to pause and gaze in wonder at the climbers covering the ridges.
Hang around until the sun goes down, or get there when it’s coming up, and it’ll take your breath away.
The varied sides of Mother Nature played out in full force this year, across the United States and Oregon, too.
All weekend I worried of my plan to drive from Smith Rock outside Redmond, across to Mount Hood and into the Hood River Valley.
A wildfire on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation had closed portions of Highway 126 throughout the week, and no telling what might be in store for me down the road.
Knowing full well of the beauty of Highway 126 from Eugene up to Sisters — or even Scenic Highway 242 — I decided my best bet would be to backtrack toward home and save Mount Hood for another day.
On my ride toward home, I recalled that a number of years back I collected firewood at Big Lake, in the shadows of Mount Bachelor. That would be a great place to camp, if I could find an open spot. It is Labor Day weekend.
I’m sure I could find a number of great photos there.
Not to mention the McKenzie River Trail. It alone offers endless photo ops that can be etched into your memory forever.
Driving just outside Smith Rock, in Terrebonne, I could see a massive plum of smoke rising, then blanketing the horizon. I definitely want to avoid that, I thought, although part of me thought Warm Springs should be in another direction.
I shrugged and stuck with my new plan. Big Lake, here I come.
As I rolled into Sisters, it became obvious. Mother Nature must have struck again. That fire that dominates the horizon burns between me and Eugene.
I come to find the latest fire is dubbed the Big Lake Fire. I drove home through a haze of smoke that lasted well down past Blue River and the Cougar Reservoir, knocking the last few campgrounds out of contention.
I came home a day or so early. I could have hit the coast, but I’ll save that for the next adventure. The 20th Anniversary Bike Adventure.